The home of architecture and design in Asia-Pacific

Get the latest design news direct to your inbox!

‘Design For The Real Needs’: A European Tour With Geberit Group

Geberit Group has sponsored ‘Victor Papanek: The Politics of Design’ – a retrospective exhibition at the Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein. Cubes and were part of a group of design-industry representatives from Asia invited to visit the exhibition and Geberit’s headquarters.

‘Design For The Real Needs’: A European Tour With Geberit Group

Exhibition view. Image © Vitra Design Museum, photo by Norbert Miguletz

Victor Papanek: The Politics of Design is a retrospective of designer and author Victor J. Papanek (1923–1998) currently being presented at the Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein, Germany.


Papanek was one of the twentieth century’s most influential designers, known for his thought leadership and activism of a socially and environmentally oriented design approach. In his book, Design for the Real World, first published in 1971, Papanek sounded the clarion call for inclusion, social justice, and sustainability – considerations that are all the more critical and urgent for the practice of design today.


Victor J. Papanek filming the WNED-TV Channel 17 program ‘Design Dimensions’ in Buffalo, New York, 1961 – 1963. Image © WNED-TV, courtesy Victor J. Papanek Foundation

A team of design practitioners and editors from Singapore, Indonesia, South Korea and Thailand was invited by Geberit Group to visit the exhibition in November. Geberit is a sponsor of the exhibition, which runs through to 10 March 2019.

The two-day visit included a guided tour of the exhibition and an architectural walkabout of the Vitra Campus. Revealed during the trip was the alignment between Papanek’s ideas of social design and Geberit’s motto of ‘Design Meets Function’.

Martin Baumüller, Geberit’s Head of Group Division Marketing & Brands and Member of the Group Executive Board, explained, “The overall mission and ambition of Geberit is about improving people’s lives. We are improving sanitary standards across the world, offering smarter and more innovative sustainable solutions that help people to bring more hygiene, more cleanliness and more space to their daily lives.”

Through its sponsorship of the Papanek exhibition, Geberit also wishes to present its brand ethos to a larger design audience. This falls in line with Geberit’s brand communication plans for its expanded product portfolio that now includes front-of-the-wall furniture such as mirror cabinets and washbasins, on top of the pipes, shower toilets, and behind-the-wall systems the brand is already known for.


See more photos of the exhibition at Vitra Design Museum in our gallery:


And see more of the exhibited items here:


Inspired by Papanek’s book title, Geberit Group dubbed the trip ‘Design For The Real Needs: NSEA VIP Visit’. A half-day visit to the Geberit headquarters in Jona was also conducted. The group toured the company’s acoustic and sanitary laboratories and was shown demonstrations at one of Geberit’s impressive hydraulics towers.


The hydraulic tower at Geberit’s Jona headquarters. Image: Geberit

Through meeting Geberit team members, the group also learnt about the social projects the company has undertaken in various developing countries. These include the training of locals in the planning and installation of sanitary systems in South Africa and the installation of toilets for a school in India.


Geberit’s headquarters and production site in Jona, Switzerland. Image: Geberit


See more of Geberit’s Swiss headquarters and production site:


What did the tour group see and experience at Vitra and the Geberit HQ? Take a look at these snapshots provided by Geberit SEA’s Head of Marketing Daniel Looi:


Look out for our print coverage in Cubes issue 95!


Exhibition photography © Vitra Design Museum, photos by Norbert Miguletz

INDESIGN is on instagram

Follow @indesignlive

The Indesign Collection

A searchable and comprehensive guide for specifying leading products and their suppliers

Indesign Our Partners

Keep up to date with the latest and greatest from our industry BFF's!

Related Stories

While you were sleeping

The internet never sleeps! Here's the stuff you might have missed